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Why Do Television Networks Cancel Popular Shows?

Examples that come to mind:

(1) What's My Line? ran from 1950 to 1967, and it was canceled. Demonstrating that it was popular with the public, it continued in syndication from 1968 to 1975, with at least one panel member who participated in the old show (Arlene Francis).

(2) The network canceled Perry Mason, which had run from 1957 to 1966, but it has been shown in reruns since.

(3) The Lawrence Welk Show was broadcast in the Los Angeles market from 1951 to 1955, and nationally from 1955 to 1971, but then was canceled. Without missing a beat, it continued in syndicated from 1971 to 1982, and it is still shown on local PBS stations.

(4) In the early 1970's, CBS conducted the "rural purge" in which it eliminated popular shows like the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, etc., and those shows have continued in reruns since then.

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  • 12 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    Perry Mason couldn't continue because Hamilton Burger got sick of losing every single case he prosecuted. The rural purge was unfortunate perhaps, but rural comedies were going to go out of fashion in any case.

    If it were otherwise, there would be a reboot of Dukes of Hazzard or Petticoat Junction. There was a time and a place for the rural comedies, is it not better that they quit while they were ahead? These shows do well in syndication because of the nostalgia factor. No one wants to see the Andy Griffith Show with someone other than Andy Griffith playing Sheriff Taylor. They want Don Knotts and Andy Griffith. The Lawrence Welk show ended because he retired.

    Remember that even though some shows are viewer favorites, they are not necessarily dream jobs for the actors. People get sick of each other after a while and want to do different things. Francis Bavier was said to be quite annoyed that Aunt Bea was the high water mark of her career when she had played so many other roles.

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  • 12 months ago

    Fact is things have to move on - times change + those actors often either get too old, or actually die.

    All is not lost however- there's always the huge number of reruns .... when we came back to this country, and I was hooked on Martin Shaw, I then discovered all the Professionals, none of which I'd seen before!!

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  • Anonymous
    12 months ago

    The fact that a show continued in syndication doesn't mean that it was popular. Or at least not popular enough to justify network air time. The networks have an expensive operation to run. Buying and paying for new shows takes a lot of money. So they've got to get a real good return on their investment. For syndication the costs are much lower and so the return on investment can be lower. And it's not always about making money. Sometimes it's about making enough money. Take the show Supergirl which ran for one season on CBS before being cancelled. Well it has prospered on the CW and had several more seasons. Obviously Supergirl is drawing in enough viewers to justify new episodes, even if we assume that production costs are lower at the CW. But at CBS it was taking up time which might have been devoted to a better performing show. Broadcast networks have 21 hours of primetime programming a week. If they hang on to a low performing show then they are preventing themselves from potentially getting a better performing show. This factored in to the rural purge. Executives at the time felt that they had invested too heavily in programming with a rural theme, at the expense of opportunities to attract a more diverse (and larger) audience with different kinds of shows.

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  • Anonymous
    12 months ago

    It wasn't making more money than they were spending, so it wasn't popular _enough_. Networks don't give a damn about ANYTHING except money. That is the only reason anything stays on the air or is cancelled. If it's popular but it costs more to make than something that is less popular, it adds up.

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  • 12 months ago

    it doesn't matter how popular a show is. If the ratings are bad and they aren't making much money they lose their sponsors which help pay for the show, so they have to cancel it. TV is more a business first.

    shows once a few seasons in tend to lose audiences overtime.

    Though the ratings really aren't that accurate these days with very few people watching live and mostly watching through streaming services.ratings need to be changed the way they count them. We aren't in the 1990's anymore.

    But i do think networks should give producers/writers of the show a heads up if they are going to cancel it so they can give the show closure instead of ending it on a cliffhanger

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  • Anonymous
    12 months ago

    The answer is always the same - money. With very few exceptions, shows lose audience with age. Continuing in syndication doesn't mean anything. The numbers required for syndicated shows are nothing compared to the numbers needed for prime time shows on major networks. A show that's a major hit in syndication (or cable) usually draws few enough viewers that it would mean immediate cancellation on network TV. Breaking Bad, for example, had barely 1 million viewers during early seasons. A show that aired on a network like NBC and pulled in numbers like that would be canceled after 1-2 episodes, because it would represent a money loss for them.

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